The number of tourist arrivals to Qatar increased by 7% from January to May 2017 compared to the corresponding period in 2016, figures released by Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA) showed.

The largest contributors to the growth were visiting nationals of the Americas and Europe, whose numbers increased by 9% and 14%, respectively.

Further data breakdown by visa type shows an increase by 27 % in leisure visitors, demonstrating the increasingly diverse leisure options for tourists seeking family-friendly entertainment and authentic hospitality.

Qatar also witnessed a 40-% increase in stopover visitors thanks to the introduction of a free 96-hour transit visa, combined with the success of the +Qatar campaign, which will continue to offer stopover passengers a free night's stay in a 5- or 4-star hotel throughout the summer.

Top nationalities attracted by stopover packages are nationals of the United States, United Kingdom, India, South Africa, and Pakistan.

According to Hassan al-Ibrahim, QTA chief tourism development officer, targeting stopover passengers and the introduction of the transit visa form part of QTA's strategy to diversify Qatar's tourism offering and source markets.

"We continue to work towards launching the next chapter of the Qatar National Tourism Sector Strategy (QNTSS) and implementing it in pursuit of a thriving hospitality and tourism sector," he said. "The strategy's main pillar is diversification: of products, of services and of source markets to guarantee the sustainability of the sector and its continued growth in spite of any changes in the world around us."

Despite the ongoing GCC dispute, QTA officials expressed confidence in the tourism sectors ability to maintain strong performance.

"Qatar has kept its skies and ports of entry open, Qatar Airways continues to fly to and from more than 130 destinations globally, and GCC currencies are still accepted at all tourism establishments," said al-Ibrahim.

"We will always keep our doors open to visitors and stand ready to welcome them wherever they are coming from."

QTA continues to ramp up efforts in the lead up to the Qatar Summer Festival, and is co-ordinating with private sector partners to launch all retail, hospitality and entertainment offers according to plan.

Regional promotional efforts this summer are focused on targeting visitors from Kuwait and Oman through marketing, as well as partnerships with on-the-ground tour operators in those countries.

"The largest contribution to growth in GCC visitor arrivals to Qatar during the period January-May 2017 came from Kuwaiti nationals, whose numbers increased by 7%.

Evidently the time is ripe for us to refocus promotional efforts elsewhere in the GCC, and we look forward to welcoming our brothers and sisters from Kuwait and Oman in their home away from home," al-Ibrahim said.

Beyond the Arab World, QTA continues to intensify promotional efforts internationally through its wide network of representative offices in Turkey, US, Italy, Germany, UK, France and Singapore.

"There is a huge appetite for the kind of authentic experiences that Qatar's tourism sector offers," al-Ibrahim said.

"We are especially proud of our partners who continue to uphold Qatar's values of hospitality, extending a helping hand to tourists and visitors, regardless of their origin or nationality. Qatar's tourism industry has the ability to maintain professionalism, adherence to ethics, and impeccable service during exceptional circumstances, and that will be the key to the sector's resilience."